DeBlasio Task Force on Mentally Ill at Riker’s Fails to Expand Kendra’s Law, fails to prevent incarceration of mentally ill, and is so vague as to be meaningless.
As a result of the NYC mental health officials refusing to make greater use of Kendra’s Law and refusing to provide supportive housing for the most serously ill, and refusing to prioritize the most seriously ill for treatment, there are now more persons with mental illness in Riker’s Island jail than all NYS psychiatric hospitals combined. Michael Winerip and Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times have done a terrific job exposing how these mentally ill individuals are regularly abused at Riker’s.
As a result, in June 2014 Mayor DeBlasio established a task force to propose remedies. Mental Illness Policy Org provided input which you can read here. In December the task force report came out. It was exceedingly vague and included almost nothing that would prevent the NYC mental health department from continuing to abandon the most seriously ill to the criminal justice system. We went on NY-1 to criticize its’ vagueness and failure to include Kendra’s Law expansion. Kendra’s Law reduces incarceration 70%. When used. NYC rarely does.